Buddhist Mindfulness #37 The “Big Bang” is happening now

Can you say then, that the world is
ultimately dissolving, moment by moment? Yes, the conventional way of seeing
the world – you don’t lose that through insight practice, but you
recognize that it is entirely conceptual. We do not experience the past. We
experience now. And even the earlier component parts of this conversation have all ceased without remainder. It does not exist. We keep a recording of it, but even the actual experience of ‘rewinding the tape’ and re-watching it, that is happening now, and that ceases. So, it is just clearly defining what is conventional reality – ‘past’, ‘present’, ‘future’ – and what is ultimate reality – the components of ‘now.’ And having a clear recognition that there are two different ways of interpreting
experience It is at that ultimate level that you see that there is no ‘past’, ‘present’ or ‘future.’ There is just ‘now.’ All the component parts – seeing,
tasting, touching, smelling, hearing and all the mental objects – all arise and
pass away. There is nothing in ultimate experience which is not part of that conditioned and conditioning ‘matrix.’ (…if you want to get all sci-fi about it.) What you discover is that, out of this arising and passing away, this coming to be and dissolving of experience, out of the weaving together of all these
component parts that are doing that, the conventional reality emerges. So, what is more ‘real’ is the ultimate level, of what we call ‘aggregates’ arising and passing away. Out of the play of those aggregates is formed the conventional reality of ‘past,’ ‘present’ and ‘future.’ So, when did the Big Bang happen? Well for me, ultimately, the Big Bang is happening now. Can you explain that? Existence is coming into being, now. So (for example), ‘seeing’ is the coming together of a visible object, the sensitive matter of the eye base, and the consciousness that arises. There is ‘a thing seen,’ and there is ‘seeing,’ but that arises and passes away. Now, you can build that up with all the other five physical senses, and the mind as the sixth sense. It is all doing the same thing. There is a momentary coming together of experience which is all being weaved together by with the various senses – all coming together
and passing away, and all the components of the mind like perception, attention and one pointedness of mind, many different factors all coming together in a moment, in order to create this appearance of a solid separate world. So, when people normally talk about the Big Bang, as a thing that happened
four billion years ago, it is fine. It works. The whole evolutionary idea works – in that conventional reality, but when you actually deconstruct that
conventional reality, into its ultimately existing components, you realize that actually, there is only the coming together and the passing away of momentary experience and this whole idea of a big bang four billion years ago is just a concept. It is just an idea, a construct. I also heard you say once, that the earth… something about the Earth ‘not existing’ ? Yes! Which I would never be able to explain, but I remember I loved it – what you said about it. Right. What did you say about it? Well, there was the discovery that
although conventionally you say, “There is Bradford on Avon” , “There is Wiltshire”… I remember being out for walk on the lanes, in the countryside outside Bradford on Avon, and I was practicing mindfulness of ultimates, and there was the discovery that there was no “Earth.” There was a ‘perception’ arising, which labeled the experience “countryside” or “Bradford on Avon” or “planet Earth,” but in reality there was no such solid,
concrete entity in existence. I am not saying that is it easy for somebody who has never practiced Insight Meditation to just go “Oh yes, I see what he means.” It is not going to happen. I know that it is controversial and people won’t get it, but it is nonetheless true, for anyone who takes the time to actually investigate properly. “The planet Earth” is a construct woven together by a myriad of mind-body processes. Is that related to what we were saying earlier, about reality dissolving moment by moment? Yes. That conventional reality is empty of any inherent substance. It is not saying that it is a total illusion, because you have to include it. Conventional reality does exist at its own level, but it has got no intrinsic reality. But we know this. Say (for example), money. Money is an abstract concept. There is not anything actually… There is no such thing as “money”. How to describe it? It is something that we all agree on, but you can’t actually find it. Especially now that we are going into digital currency. It is getting even more difficult to say, “Well, what is it?” as a physical
thing?” So, I pull out a ten pound note. We all agree that it is a ten pound
note, but it isn’t actually a ten pound note. Is it? It is just a piece of paper. So we infer this… (I am trying to find the right word.) It is like an inter-subjective reality. We are all in on it… …but it does not have any real, absolute validity. Link the Houses of Parliament. No matter how hard you try to find the Houses of Parliament, you will never find
the Houses of Parliament, because, “the Houses of Parliament” is
more than just a building isn’t it? It is a whole set of ideas about governance and politics, and a whole history around it. So, “Houses of Parliament” is more than just a building – and this is even before we go into
ultimates and start saying where is the building? There is shape and color; maybe there is the sense of touch or whatever, but even even in a very general sense, you
cannot actually find the Houses of Parliament as a physically existing object. But we all sort of agree, “Yes, that is a real thing,” because it makes life manageable. They are like linguistic shortcuts – words. We pack an incredibly complex set of ideas into these really small words, so we all agree upon them. Because otherwise, if we had to
explain everything – if we had to extrapolate everything out to make sure that we understood each other, we would never we would never finish a conversation. Emptiness is a core theme of Buddhism, and I know it is through practicing Insight Meditation, that you come to start to recognize it. It is incredibly difficult to talk about – to
describe it. Emptiness? Yes Going back to what you were saying about “self” earlier. You said, about how there is eye consciousness… I think you said, (for example), if you decide to go out the door now, in a sense “you” are deciding to go out the door now – the act of intention or volition. But is it you really making that decision? What is actually happening there? What is the “you” In all of that? The discovery is that there can be that whole series of complex psycho-physical activities in opening a door, without the need for a self. What do we even mean by the word ‘self’? There is just this a-priori assumption that there is a self. People will say to me, “Well, if there is
no self, Paul, how come I can open a door?” And I say, “Well, we are not saying that the processes of opening the door are not happening. We are not saying that the intention; the decision, the volition and the actual performance of t e activity are not happening.” We are saying
that there is no “self” in any of it. There is no requirement. It is a massive assumption, that it requires this never discovered, totally un-identifiable “entity,” that is always present, but never found, that is actually doing all of these things – separate from the rest of existence. As you walk the Insight Path, it becomes laughable, that there could be this ‘entity’ that is always there, but has never, in the whole of history been identified by anybody. I had one chap contact me on YouTube saying, “Yes, but I left my body one time. I looked back and I saw my body. So, the entity doing the seeing – that was my soul.” No, that is just recalibrating the same assumption, and just applying it to a different experience. Nothing has been proven by that. Because, clearly, there is ‘seeing consciousness’ happening; there is ‘perception,’ there is cognition; there is volition; there is decision. Yes, and it is happening outside the physical body. Fine. I am fine with that, but it doesn’t prove the existence of a self. It is just saying, “It is not this, but it is that.” It is still applying the conceptual construct of “self” to an experience. To the out of body experience? Yes. But in no way, shape or form is it a proof of anything. Well, it certainly proves that outside the physical body, if someone experiences that, but it is not proof that it is a “soul.” I know this is going to be controversial, but the whole point about the Buddha’s teaching is that you can (prove this for yourself.) Another issue that perhaps needs clarifying is that, you are allowed to use the terms. The Buddha talked about himself, “In my former life, when I was the Bodhisattva, I …” It doesn’t mean that he hasn’t completely seen through the concept of selfhood . He has. That is his enlightenment. People get very confused. They say, “Well how can you, on the one hand say there are no things, and then on the next hand say, ‘My record collection’; ‘My…’?” The thing is, When I am talking about
conventional reality, I use the concepts relevant for conventional reality. When I talk about ultimate experience, I use the language suitable for describing ultimate experience, in which there is no self. Then, further on, for somebody who has realized the truth of the way things are, there is just this seamless reality, which has no division in it at all. There are no things. But the very act of using language, even to
describe that, is starting that process of division. There is no contradiction. It is just using different levels of language suitable for the different level of reality that you are describing.

Jerry Heath

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